What’s the best way to melt chocolate? It seems that just about every pastry maker has a different opinion about this. Some people wouldn’t think of using anything other than a double boiler, others are just as happy with a microwave. Me, I’m a microwave man, since it’s faster and it leaves fewer dishes to do. Double boiler advocates argue that steam heat is gentler, less likely to cause the chocolate to “break” from overheating. On the other hand having all that water and steam around does present the real risk of getting an errant drop or two into your melted chocolate, causing the cocoa particles in the mixture to stick together and “seize”.
It’s my belief (and experience) that most professional pastry kitchens use microwaves (candy makers are an exception, since they employ nifty and expensive chocolate temperers to keep their products snappy and shiny). Provided you only apply the heat in short bursts, they’re every bit as gentle as a double boiler. Just zap your chips or cut up chocolate pieces in bursts of 20 seconds or so at a time, stirring between each heating. Using this method I’ve never had anything less than excellent results.